The Tattoo Project: body. art. image.
Cover photo of The Tattoo Project by Vince Hemingson. Portrait above by Dan Kozma.
Four years ago this month, 100 hundred heavily tattooed people and 11 of Vancouver's best photographers came together for The Tattoo Project: Body. Art. Image: a three-day event at the Vancouver Photo Workshops described as "a synthesis of portraiture and tattoo art that poses the eternal question, Who am I?" The body of work born from the project explores tattooed bodies via diverse photographic philosophies. Vince Hemingson, creator of The Tattoo Project (as well as many other wonderful projects), has said that the images not only reflect who the subjects are but also the photographers, from their differing approaches to lighting, mood, and color to different methods for engaging the subjects. The subjects were quite diverse themselves and not just today's standard "tattoo model" fare.
Vince explains his inspiration behind The Tattoo Project: body. art. image.:
This project was an idea that I had simmering on the back burner for nearly fifteen years. I have always wanted to to see how fine art photographers would interpret individuals who were tattooed. When I first saw Albert Watson's seminal work from the Louisiana Prisons in his book CYCLOPS it was an idea that wouldn't go away. In my writing and filmmaking, I have always thought that the purpose of training your pen or your camera on a subject was illumination. Literally to shine a light on something.From that long weekend, almost 200 images were selected for The Tattoo Project exhibition in November 2010, curated by Pennylane Shen, and shown at Performance Works on Granville Island. More than 750 people attended the opening night. With such incredible success, naturally, the next step was a book.
The 240-page hardcover The Tattoo Project: body. art. image., published by Schiffer Books, takes the very best works from the project and highlights them in a large-format, beautifully designed coffee table book. This book isn't just about pretty tattoos -- although there are a number of exceptional ones. What makes it engaging is the storytelling of these portraits, the way the personalities of these tattooed people shine through. And also, as Vince mentioned, it's interesting to see how these stories are told in so many ways, whether it be through the black & white long exposure photos by Marc Koegel or the "housewife cheescake" images by Melanie Jane. The other photographers include Wayne A. Hoecherl , Dan Kozma , Spencer Kovats, Syx Langemann, Aura McKay, Rosamond Norbury, Johnathon Vaughn, Jeff Weddell as well as Vince.
Images above by Spencer Kovats.
The next step for Tattoo Project: body. art. image. is a documentary film. Throughout the project, two film crews captured the process -- as Vince says, they "prowled the crowded hallways, eves-dropped on photographers as they shot in the studios, and interviewed dozens of models and all of the photographers." This summer, Vince and his team will be launching a Kickstarter.com crowd funding campaign to help finish the post-production on the film.
Check The Vanishing Tattoo blog for updates on the film (and the perks for contributing) and other tattoo goodness.
Portrait above by Syx Langemann.